School of Architecture, CUHK

Prof. Peter Ferretto wins Category Award at WAF 2019

Date & Time


A children’s library in a Dong minority village Gaobu, in Hunan Province, designed and built by our Prof. Peter W. Ferretto and his team at Condition_Lab, has received the “Completed Buildings – Civic and Community” category award at this year’s World Architecture Festival (WAF).

Opened in December 2018, the Gaobu Book House, designed and built together with local villagers as well as the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at Guangzhou University (GZU) over five years, was devised for children in Gaobu to learn through playing and interacting with peers. It demonstrates how traditional architectural elements and methods can be used creatively to make a real difference in improving rural communities, delivering a new paradigm for participatory architecture.

The team has adopted the traditional Dong house “Ganlan” style as the creative starting point for the 200m² two-story Book House, using local timber and with the help of local workers. Having witnessed how stairs become a key architectural element in Dong daily life, the team decided that a central staircase would act both as a means of circulation and as the identity for the building. The ground floor is conceived as a covered open space for public gatherings and local exhibitions, while each wall of the house above is dedicated to a specific educational theme with shelves of books. The Gaobu Book House project has also previously won the WA Award (31st Cycle) and in the DFA Design for Asia Awards (Bronze Award).

The WAF is one of the most prestigious events dedicated to the architecture industry. Each of the awarded projects represents the best quality in its architectural field. Standing out from 16 other international shortlisted entries, the winning Book House project was applauded by the WAF judges as a team effort that “totally intertwined with the community – a project that goes well beyond the actual building and demonstrates excellence of process”. Visit the Festival website for more details.


Condition_Lab is a design-research laboratory led by Prof. Ferretto at the CUHK School of Architecture, together with a group of young graduates who believe that design has the power to improve people’s lives. By working with real situations, observing, understanding and engaging the community with empathy, Condition_Lab aims to propose alternatives and design projects that can enable a better future, all of which have involved students directly in the design and building processes that are also grounded in local craftsmanship.

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